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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Waning of America's Higher Education Advantage: International Competitors Are No Longer Number Two and Have Big Plans in the Global Economy

  • Author(s): Douglass, John Aubrey
  • et al.

The United States has long enjoyed being on the cutting edge in its devotion to building a vibrant higher education sector. After a century of leading the world in participation rates in higher education, however, there are strong indications that America's advantage is waning. The academic research enterprise remains relatively vibrant. However, participation and degree attainment rates have leveled off and are showing signs of actual decline in a number of major states with large populations--and this seems to be more than just a bump or short-term market correction. Other competitive nations, and in particular key members of the European Union, along with China, India and other developing economies, are aggressively nurturing their higher education systems, expanding access, and better positioning themselves in the global economy. They have been trying harder, while in the US public funding for higher education has declined. The nation's international and domestic concerns lie elsewhere. In addition to outlining these reasons that America's higher education advantage is waning, this article also discusses the possible consequences.

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